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Sexual Harassment Awareness

It's crucial to feel safe and respected in your workplace or educational environment. If you're experiencing sexual harassment, you have the right to report it to the appropriate authorities at your job, school, or law enforcement agency.

Understanding Sexual Harassment:

Sexual harassment encompasses unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal, visual, or physical conduct of a sexual nature within the workplace or educational setting, as defined by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

It's important to note that sexual harassment isn't always explicitly sexual or directed at a specific individual; for instance, derogatory remarks about women as a group can constitute sexual harassment. While teasing or casual comments may not always be covered by sexual harassment laws, they can still be distressing and have a detrimental impact emotionally.

Identifying Sexual Harassment:

Sexual harassment can manifest in various forms and can involve individuals of both genders that are in various relationships with the victim, such as managers, coworkers, teachers, or peers. Some examples of sexual harassment include:

  • Making job advancement, promotions, or grading, contingent upon sexual favors.

  • Physical acts of sexual assault.

  • Requests for sexual favors.

  • Verbal harassment of a sexual nature, including sexually explicit jokes or comments.

  • Visual harassment of a sexual nature, including depictions or descriptions of sex acts.

  • Unwanted physical contact or touching.

  • Unwelcome sexual advances.

  • Discussing sexual matters in inappropriate settings.

  • Feeling coerced into accepting or engaging in sexual activities.

  • Sending unsolicited sexually explicit materials or messages.

Distinguishing Sexual Harassment from Sexual Assault and Misconduct:

Sexual harassment encompasses a wide range of unwelcome sexual attention, while sexual assault involves non-consensual sexual contact or behavior, often of a physical nature. While sexual harassment primarily violates civil laws, sexual assault typically constitutes criminal acts. Sexual misconduct is a broader term, often referring to behaviors that may or may not involve harassment, such as company policies prohibiting romantic relationships between coworkers or adults providing sexually-explicit materials to persons under 18 years of age.

Where Sexual Harassment Occurs:

Sexual harassment can take place in various settings, including workplaces, schools, or universities, and can occur during working hours or in after-hours interactions.

Responding to Sexual Harassment:

If you witness sexual harassment, bystander intervention can be an effective strategy to support the victim. Remember to:

  • Create a distraction, if safe to do so.

  • Directly approach the person being harassed and offer assistance.

  • Seek help from authority figures or enlist the support of others.

  • Prioritize safety for yourself and others.

Effects of Sexual Harassment:

Sexual harassment can have profound emotional, mental, and physical effects on survivors, including feelings of anger, fear, shame, anxiety, depression, and physical ailments like headaches and fatigue.

Further Resources: For additional information and resources on sexual harassment, you can visit the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) website to learn about relevant laws and your rights in the workplace.

Fellows & Editors

March 27, 2024 

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